Reaching up

When I was a very, very little kid,
And my grandma asked me what I wanted to be
For Halloween, I replied,
“I would like to be a star.”

So she got to work.
She bought some orange cloth material.
She was good at sewing.
She was good at measuring and cutting and pinning.
She sewed the parts together.
She ironed and starched what she had made
Till it was nice and stiff.
It fit just right.

We went to look in the mirror, and
I saw myself all dressed up in my costume
Dressed to look like a five-pointed star.

My grandma said,
“Now aren’t you a dahling.
You’re so special, and all mine.
Come, take my hand.
Let’s go show the neighbors
What an cute little star I have.”

This year it will be
A hundred and twelve years
Since my grandma was born.
She wasn’t very tall, but lived a long life,
Longer than most old people tend to stick around.

I’ve stuck around now for fifty-four years
Since Grandma and I paraded around the neighborhood.
It’s been a long, long time
Since I curtsied before my parents
And dutifully turned in my candy bucket
So my mom could tuck away my collection
And dole it out to me bit by bit
So I wouldn’t become a horrible, fat child,
So that everything would be just so
And right with the world.

Today, I walked home with a canvas shopping bag
Full of staples I’d collected at the food pantry.
No matter how much or how little I get there
The bag always seems very heavy to me
Because I am not very strong.
I ended up skinny.
I ended up developing an eating disorder.
Sometimes my heart is heavy in my chest.

My name is Julie Greene.
I am an extraordinary writer.
I am an activist for people with eating disorders.
Not only will I change the world,
But I am changing the world right here and right now.

I have so many writing ideas right here and right now
That I have had to write a list
To keep track of them all.
I help people by writing and sharing
and speaking out loud what I think and feel inside.
I help myself.

I went to therapy
And learned about what therapy is and isn’t.
I wrote
And learned about myself.
I became incredibly self-aware.
I am continuing to develop this knowledge of myself.
Self-awareness needs to be cultivated and maintained.
I have my Power.
I write.
I have Power because I am a writer.
I saw some very wrong things and knew
That I was the very right person to change these things.
I woke up and saw all this one day, and because I saw it
I knew the Power
And because I knew it
I then seized it
And held onto it
And today I celebrate it.

As a person with an eating disorder
I may be skinny, and at the same time
View myself as not skinny
And see a fat person when I think of myself.
This morning I woke up, and like some, but not all mornings,
I called myself nasty names.
I don’t need to list them all again.
I remember them.  They are common words
Used cruelly.

Many people think “fat” is an insult.
Many people think “fat” is bad.
Many people think “fat” is immoral.
Many people think “fat” is a whole lot of things.
In truth, it is a rather meaningless term if used
To describe a size or shape
Mainly because different people define “fat” differently.
Maybe it’s a merely a slang term for “overweight,”
And overweight isn’t the same for everyone.

This is even true in the medical sense.
Why do I say this?
I’m guessing that most people
That have strong and well-put-together hearts,
Care deeply for themselves, and stay in sane places
Can live in bodies of many different sizes and shapes,
And if anyone tells them otherwise,
That person can just go to hell.

So in thus saying, I know that I have body dysmorphia
Which is what it’s called
When I am a skinny person and I think I’m fat,
I obsess way too much, and
I see my body unrealistically.
Body dysmorphia is a component of anorexia nervosa.
Many people have body dysmorphia as a single mental illness.
Not too much is known about this mental illness.
So many people who have it don’t even know about it
And aren’t even aware that they have it
Or even know that there’s anything wrong with them
Or are aware that they obsess
Or are aware of their deep unhappiness.
They keep everything so secret that it is a secret to themselves.
Suicide is very common among these sad people
And I’m guessing that many never know why they are so driven
And so desperate
And so cornered by the need to obliterate
What they hate about their bodies
That they obliterate their entire lives.

Today I celebrate my Power.
Today I celebrate my self-awareness.
Today I celebrate my awareness
Of my own body dysmorphia.
I celebrate my ability to call my imperfection
A name, and to write this name
And to tell the world my true feelings about my body.
I celebrate my ability and freedom
To admit to the world that I hate my body.
And in so doing, communicate to others
That this is painful to live with,
That I am not the only one.
I celebrate my ability to challenge others
To look deeply within their hearts, and ask,
“Do I, too, feel hatred toward my own body?”

Today, I celebrate my ability to share with others
A bit of the joy I feel when I write and learn about myself,
The joy I feel when I learn about myself,
The joy I feel when I encourage others to write
And learn about themselves
And maybe learn about their own feelings
About their bodies.

I have the Power to change the world.
I have the Power to change myself, too.
I can change myself without putting on a costume.
I have the Power to grow tall, and reach the sky.
I can reach the sky with no one else holding my hand.
I can reach out, reach up, and with both hands held high,
With both feet still firm on the ground, I can touch the sky.
Can you see me doing this, right here, right now?
At last, I am a real star.


Feedback and comments welcome!